Looking for Parrot’s long lost mother

Thursday 28 March 2013

Following on from an earlier post, here’s a Brockhampton Press semi-strip book featuring Bruin, or as he’s known in the original Danish, Rasmus Klump. This little book is in the same small horizontal two-colour format as the Peter Pan book seen recently on Michael Sporn’s Splog.

Published in 1959, Bruin the Deep Sea Diver was the third Bruin book in this format. The back cover lists two other titles, Bruin Sets Sail and Bruin is Shipwrecked.

The book begins by concluding the previous volume’s shipwreck story. In Bruin is Shipwrecked, he and his crew were washed off the deck of the good ship Mary in a storm and came ashore on an island populated by turtles. Thinking the Mary was lost, they decided to make a new ship, a paddle boat fashioned out of a hollow log. Now, setting off to circumnavigate the island they find the Mary safe and sound, but with a stranger aboard.

In the Danish book series, all this is included in the shipwreck book, Rasmus Klump på Skilpaddeøen, rather than the diving book, Rasmus Klump som dykker.

These stories were originally published as a daily comic strip, and all he book collections are abridged, leaving out some panels. This little book skips quite a few, but even so I won’t reproduce the whole thing here.

I’ve scanned the following pages in higher resolution: one, two and three, four and five, six and seven, eight and nine, ten and eleven, twelve and thirteen, fourteen and fifteen. This brings us up to the proper end of the shipwreck story, and to the point where the Danish version of the diving story begins.

But wait, on page fourteen something very exciting occurs! Despite the book leaving out so many panels, it manages to include an event missing from the Danish books, namely the first appearance of Parrot as an egg, and the only appearance of Parrot’s mother!

But who is this parrot, you ask? Well, throughout their adventures, Bruin (Rasmus), Pingo, Percy the pelican (Pelle), and the old salt Wilmot (Skæg), are accompanied by the little ones (de små), a little turtle (Pilskadden) who only speaks its own turtle language, and the turtle’s little friend. In the first few stories the turtle’s friend is a frog (Frømand), and then in Rasmus Klump som dykker the turtle and frog suddenly produce a small pram, out of which eventually comes a baby parrot (Gøjen). Shortly afterwards the frog, a male like most characters in the strip, meets a female frog and leaves the crew, so for the later books the little ones are the turtle and the parrot.

All the stories feel like an imaginative play session between three children, Bruin, Pingo, and Percy, with the little ones being a pair of lively toddlers sometimes playing in parallel and sometimes joining in the main action, and Wilmot as an indulgent adult who sometimes plays along, but is quite distracted and would just as soon have a nap while the game continues.

So, for readers of the Danish books, it’s long seemed quite mysterious the way Parrot appeared out of the pram. But having seen two drawings of Parrot’s mother, I wondered were there any more? Google have recently put online scans of several years worth of back issues of the Glasgow Evening Times, and in its pages, starting with the issue of February 8th 1954, we can find the complete early newspaper strips in translation.

Here then is the complete appearance of Parrot’s mother, three panels published in the Evening Times on Saturday August 13th, 1955, and below a further view of the egg before it’s tucked in by turtle, from the following monday’s issue.

Finally, a quick look at my very battered old copy of Rasmus Klump som dykker, with the pram first appearing on page two, and Parrot popping out much later in the book.

One day perhaps we’ll see these stories reprinted unabridged. The easy pace of the original stories are still perfect for young children, and for older readers who like sharing some of their adventures before having forty winks.

Rasmus Klump/Bruin copyright © Egmont Serieforlaget.

See all my Rasmus Klump posts.